Leeds Festival 2023: Security hiked as disposable BBQs and single-use vapes banned to reduce fire risk
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More drug detection dogs will be on site at Bramham Park at the August bank holiday event, while police will have an armed response vehicle available as a “contingency” precaution.
Disposable barbecues and single-use vapes will also be banned for the first time.
The measures are among several being taken by organisers Festival Republic, after director Melvyn Benn admitted security at last year’s event was “perhaps not good enough”.
Several tent fires erupted amid chaotic scenes on the Sunday night of the festival in 2022.
The event was also marred by the death of 16-year-old David Celino, who was thought to have taken an ecstasy tablet before falling fatally ill, according to police. An inquest into the Salford teenager’s passing will be held later this month.
Speaking at a Leeds Council licensing committee meeting on Tuesday, Festival Republic told local councillors that they had acted on feedback from the previous year.
While campfires have been banned at the event for many years, barbecues have now been added to the list of prohibited items in an attempt to reduce the risk of fire.
Disposable vapes are also forbidden, in keeping with the festival’s efforts to be more eco-friendly, although Mr Benn admitted confiscating them on the festival doors would be difficult.
“It would be impossible to prevent people bringing them in, because they are very small,” he told the committee.
“The complete ban is on any retail of them on site. We are heavily discouraging the use of them and where they are found they will be taken from people. Refillable vapes will be sold on site.”
The committee was also told there had been issues with the X-ray facilities at last year’s festival, as well as with transferring patients to hospital. Procedures have been improved ahead of this year’s event, organisers said.
Around 1,300 festival-goers needed medical attention on-site over the course of the weekend, with 21 taken to hospital.
A police representative told the meeting there had been 141 recorded crimes, which he said was “slightly up” on figures from the 2021 festival.
Committee chair Coun James Gibson praised organisers for their “thorough” response, after he and other colleagues had called for changes to be made earlier this year.
He said: “It’s great to see so many improvements and that you’ve taken on board a lot of our suggestions. For my part, it’s looking to be a great festival this year.”